The boss of North Korea can now claim a hipster signifier even more hilarious than his enormous spectacles: There’s a food cart named after him. But if Kim Jong Grillin’s owners ever seize Portland, it’ll be a benevolent dictatorship. People will be lining up for their orders; they already are. The cart does basic Korean comfort food, with occasional specials. Traditional barbecued marinated meats (beef, short ribs, pork or chicken) come with seasonally appropriate sides wrapped in butter-lettuce leaves ($8, or $10 for a three-meat combo). The classic banh mi sandwich ($5.50) is renamed the Han Mi, after co-owner Han Ly Hwang (who has cooked in fancy kitchens all over town, including Couture and Carlyle). For novelty, get the Taepodong hot dog ($5.50), named after North Korea’s ballistic missile; it’s a grilled Sabrett jammed into a chewy baguette with kimchi mayo, sprouts, jicama-daikon kimchi and pickled mango. Sounds weird, maybe, but those flavors and textures together? Kablammo. Still, the thing to order is the Bibim Box ($8): strips of insanely tender, savory barbecued meat, a fried egg, kimchi, rice, stir-fried potato noodles (japchae), sprouts and lettuce. Most Saturdays, the cart teams up with Leroy’s BBQ to offer smoked duck. Call ahead to avoid waiting.
- Best bite: Bibim Box with beef ($8)
- Cheapest bite: Lettuce wrap—choice of meat wrapped in lettuce with rice and a side ($3)
EAT: 4725 SE Division St., 926-2868. Noon-7 pm Tuesday-Friday, 1-8 pm Saturday. $.